Behind the Scenes: Rosé of Pinot Noir Debut

Imagery is key when launching a new product and we knew the best person to help capture the essence of Layer Cake’s new Rosé of Pinot Noir: food and lifestyle photographer Matt Armendariz.

We flew down and spent two days in his naturally lit, loft-style photo studio in Long Beach, CA. We were graced with his talent, props, equipment and stylists to help us achieve the perfect shot for our upcoming launch. The goal was to make the wine look as good as it tastes. We succeeded.

Few know just how much it takes to get the perfect shot, especially one as important as this for our new product release. For this, we were extremely grateful to have Matt’s expertise. Once we were happy the the final shot, it was time to bring the ad to life.

That’s when we turned to Zentiv creative agency in Santa Rosa, CA to help the ad jump off the page. You can see our beautiful new ad in the latest editions of Wine Spectator, Food & WineWine & Spirits, Wine Enthusiast, Sunset and many more. We believe it captures the essence of the wine, and are excited to share it with you all. Cheers.

Wine and Food Pairings for Your Home Brunch

Brunch has gained a lot of popularity in the past few years, and for good reason. Between the upscale food and the tasty cocktails, brunch has everything you need to have a truly relaxing weekend. Many restaurants and wineries have started offering special brunch menus on weekend mornings. But sometimes, you don’t feel like going out. For those days that you want the comfort of your own home, but still want a relaxing brunch with friends, we have some brunch hosting tips for you!

Plan a Theme

Every meal is better with a theme, especially when entertaining! Choose a common element to tie your brunch together. You could choose a region-inspired brunch, serving dishes from places like Italy or New Orleans, and picking décor and music to match.

Or maybe you want a food theme! Try a veggie-only brunch, or pick a main entrée dish and choose sides and drinks to match!

Other themes could include colors, time periods, or even pop culture references. The sky is your limit! Choosing a theme makes it easier for everyone to pitch in while still having a cohesive brunch meal. This way your brunch will be a team effort and no one person will have to do all the work. More fun for everyone!

Think about Prep

If you want your brunch to run smoothly, think about the flow of traffic between food prep and food consumption. Prep as much of your meal as possible before your guests arrive. Put baked goods in the oven as your guests arrive, to be enjoyed after your first drinks.

Create a station for light food and drink prep. If you’re looking for maximum convenience, look at these wine tasting centers that store wine bottles, glasses, and have counter-space for drink prep. With drawers to store your bottle opener and silverware, you can make this your brunch supply station and be ready for brunch any time! Some even have room for seating and double as a table!

Pair Fantastic Food with Wonderful Wine

Now for what you’re really here for: the food! Here are some ideas to get you started planning your brunch meal:

  • Flatbread is a great finger food and easy to pair with other dishes. Try some simple herbs, smoked salmon and prosciutto on grilled flatbread. It’d go great with Layer Cake Chardonnay or a crisp, Sauvignon Blanc to balance out the salt in the smoked salmon.
  • Want your brunch to have fresh, homegrown food? Plan ahead and plant a pesto garden! Then all your brunches can have a lovely pesto for pizza, pasta, flatbread, or bruschetta!
  • Pair a French Toast (or as the French call it, Pain Perdu) with a homemade berry jam and the fruity Layer Cake Cabernet Sauvignon.
  • Looking to add some whimsy to your meal? Check out this A-Z guide to edible flowers. There are recipes for rose jam, yucca hash, and more! You can even make your own Dandelion Wine as an after-brunch palate cleanser. Edible flowers are an easy and unique addition to any meal, more information can be found at Sharie’s Berries Guide to Edible Flowers as well.
  • Stock up on your favorite Champagne or sparkling wine and some fresh citrus juices (orange, grapefruit, tangerine, etc.) for a low-maintenance mimosa bar!
  • Want to give your guests an option with a little zing? Try these Buttermilk and Sharp Cheddar Biscuits with Brown Sugar Cured Ham & Pepper Jelly.

These are just a few fun ideas for your next wine-centric brunch with close friends and family. What’s your favorite brunch pairing? Share in the comments!

Submitted by Layer Cake Wines fan, Jeriann Watkins

Wine Country: Open for Business

By now you undoubtedly have heard about the horrific wildfires that burned through hundreds of thousands of acres of Napa, Sonoma, and Mendocino counties earlier this month. The fires hit our community hard here in California, and our hearts go out to everyone victimized by this natural disaster. Especially the people who lost everything.

Here at Layer Cake, we are thankful the Northern California vineyards from which we source our grapes for Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc emerged unscathed. This means we’ll be able to continue making all of the Layer Cake wines without interruption. Farmers and winemakers made this possible—waking up early to bring in fruit, then braving smoky conditions to get it pressed, fermented, and into barrels and tanks. We’ve always said our people have a passion for coming together to make wine through hell or high water. Now that applies to fire, as well.

Still, over the last few weeks, friends and customers have been asking us how they can help with recovery efforts. So, we’ve put together a few suggestions.

  1. Buy local wine!

Now more than ever, local wineries and local grape growers need us. Buying Northern California wine is a quick and easy way to support Napa, Sonoma, and Mendocino wine people—especially since most of the money you spend goes right back to the people who made the wine. We source the grapes for our Layer Cake Cabernet from the Alexander Valley; a region that was hit hard by the fires. Support those farmers by drinking that red.

  1. Come and visit!

The media has painted a picture of Wine Country in shambles. This could not be farther from the truth. In fact, the majority of Napa and Sonoma wineries, hotels, and restaurants are open for business. Now all they need is you.  Plan a visit. Book some tastings. Schedule some meals. Unfortunately, we don’t have a tasting room you can visit, but encourage you to visit some of our favorite spots. Fall and winter are the “off-season” in Wine Country, which means you might even be able to score some deals.

  1. Consider donating.

We understand that philanthropy is often personal (and private), but there are some great opportunities to give back to the local communities in Napa and Sonoma counties as they rebuild. This post, from AFAR Magazine, offers some great suggestions. Both Napa and Healdsburg also have launched “free stores” where people can donate clothes and other goods for fire victims, who then “shop” for free. If you want to get involved but don’t want to give cash, these are great alternatives.

And no comments about the fires would be complete without publicly thanking first responders for keeping our community safe. We simply couldn’t have survived this natural disaster without their selfless work. To them, we raise a glass.

Finally, a message from Wine Country:

Photos, video by Lightspeed Films

Great Local Spots in Wine Country

Sometimes the best way to explore a new destination is to experience it like a local. Simply knowing a particular spot is popular among those who live in the community gives it credibility, a certain je nes sais quoi. If locals like the place, it has to be good, right?

We’ve know a lot of places like that in Wine Country. And after the horrible fires that blew through Napa and Sonoma in October, some of those places aren’t seeing the same kind of crowds they typically see this time of year. As such, we thought it’d be a great time to share some of our favorite local spots.  Consider these our highest recommendations for your next visit to our neck of the woods.

Gott’s Roadside

Formerly known as Taylor’s Refresher, this St. Helena institution has been serving up burgers, fries, and milkshakes since 1949. Today’s menu features a host of healthier options, including ahi poke, salads, and more. More than anything, we love the wine list at Gott’s—it features many of our local favorites. Of course, nothing pairs better than sweet potato fries with a nice glass of cabernet.

SHED

This multifaceted shop in the heart of Healdsburg bills itself as a “modern grange,” and we love it for how eclectic the whole place is. There’s an organic produce stand, a larder, a mill, a coffee bar, a housewares department, and a garden supply. At the on-site restaurant, Chef Perry Hoffman cranks out award-winning food that incorporates some of the yummy ingredients from elsewhere in the store. At the bar, fermentation specialists brew their own kombucha, which is worth a try. Upstairs, a spacious event center is the backdrop for local lectures, fundraisers, and concerts. Check the calendar for listings before you go.

Fremont Diner

From Highway 12/121, the Fremont Diner looks like any other roadside dive. Inside, however, the food is a revelation. Biscuits that fall apart in your hands. Fried chicken that is crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. Pulled pork that punches your mouth with flavor. For an interactive experience, sit at the counter inside and watch as chefs make the iconic house-made waffles. If you’re visiting with a large group, grab a picnic table under the tent and heat lamps outside.

Buster’s BBQ

Wine Country has been slow to adopt the barbecue trend, but Buster’s, in downtown Calistoga, has been cranking out ribs, sausages, and pork shoulder for decades. The décor here is nondescript; some might go so far as to describe the place as nothing more than an enclosed picnic shelter. But when you’re scarfing down beans or licking your fingers after your first rack of ribs, you won’t care what the place looks like.

Frozen Art

Santa Rosa’s Roseland neighborhood is famous for its eclectic culture, and this ice cream shop does not disappoint. Even in winter, locals line up out the door for paletas, or homemade popsicles. Cream-based flavors include coffee and Oreo; for a taste of Mexico, try the guanabana or the mamey.

El Molino Central

This upscale hole-in-the-wall Mexican restaurant in Boyes Hot Springs is famous for its tamales, which are available daily starting around lunch time. Locals also love the chilaquiles—an egg scramble with chorizo and tortilla strips. Get there before traditional busy times to grab a picnic table out back.

Happy Hour Bocadillos

Sandwiches make us very happy. They make us happy while strolling Las Ramblas, the famed central walkway through Barcelona. They make us happy while hiking through the gorgeous, hilly vineyards of Calatayud in the center of Spain. They make us happy because there are few things as simple, yet satisfying, as some lovely meat and cheese between crispy, seared bread.

But, don’t be fooled! There is an art to the “Perfect” bocadillo. It starts with the best ingredients and ends with getting the perfect bite each time. Make sure not to slap these together, but to distribute things evenly and artfully.

Then, with a bottle of Layer Cake Cabernet Sauvignon to wash it down, you and your amigos will be happy too. Our favorite is the Lomo, but you can’t go wrong with the Brown Sugar Smoked Ham version either. Try them both!

Lomo (cured pork loin) Bocadillo

4 Sourdough sandwich rolls
8 oz Lomo, cured pork loin seasoned with paprika (thinly sliced)
6 oz Iberico Curado, blend of cow, goat, and sheep’s milk cheese (thinly sliced)
4 oz Quince paste
4 Tbsp Unsalted, butter, softened

1) Slice the rolls in half horizontally for sandwiches.

2) Using half of the Lomo slices; divide them between all of the bottom halves of the rolls, being sure to cover completely. Top with the cheese slices. Then, cover with the remaining Lomo slices.

2) Spread the Quince paste on the underside of the tops of the rolls and put it on top of the lomo.

3) Brush the outside (top and bottom) with butter.

Cooking Instructions

1) Preheat your Panini grill press or stovetop griddle pan over medium-high heat.

2) Working in batches to not overcrowd the pan, put the sandwiches on the heated surface, close the Panini grill, and push down firmly. (If using a stovetop griddle try to find something to weigh the sandwiches down. And, remember you will have to flip to get both sides good and brown.) Cook until both sides are toasted and golden brown and the cheese has melted, 4-5 minutes.

3) Remove from the grill, let rest for one minute, cut in half, and serve. 

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 4-5 minutes
Serves 4